Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Barbera Diet

Having thoroughly enjoyed the La Spinetta Barbera D'Asti the other night in New York, we thought it only made sense to give a local version a pour as well.

Having seen this "advertisement," there was no question.

I'd rather thought that my university days were still haunting me and I was paying for them by having to sport a "beer belly." I can't say that I drink much brunello, but it sure looks like it's a close relative (although I do wish to point out that the top picture in the ad is NOT me).

As previously mentioned, I'm a fan of Howard Soon at Sandhill Estate Vineyard. I'm particularly fond of his Small Lots Program. Mr. Soon is quoted on the winery website as stating that "our Small Lots Program provides a glimpse into our wine future, capturing the essence of small batches of promising new varietals."

Barbera is one of those varietals.

92. 2004 Sandhill Small Lots Barbera (VQA - Okanagan)

Sandhill is one of the very few Okanagan growers, if not the only one, that is taking a chance with Barbera and Italian varietals. I don't know if things have changed in the last couple of years, but when Sandhill first started producing their Barbera, it was the only straight Barbera being made in Canada.

There still isn't a whole lot of it to go around. This vintage only saw 297 cases produced - a pretty good indication that the varietal is still an experiment for the winery.

As with all of Sandhill's wines, this is has single vineyard designation and these grapes are grown on the estate vineyard. There is only one small block of Barbera grown (the winery website has an interesting map that shows the various blocks and the grapes grown) and it is one of the hottest spots in the vineyard - next to a cliff. The accumulative heat from the nearby cliff rock assists in the ripening process. The ripeness of the grapes definitely showed through in this bottle.

I haven't had a chance to call the number in the "ad" yet, but I'm not so sure that the pasta we served with the Barbera is necessarily going to help get rid of our Brunello bellies. I sure hope that Howard Soon finds some more acreage for planting Barbera though because I could easily add this wine as a regular staple to my diet.

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